Cliff Buddha, West Mountain

The Yellow Sea is no ocean, it’s a yard,
a yard with all its family members.

No one lives there, but still
the ocean builds waves
on its own, earnestly
sweeping in and sweeping away,
today as yesterday.
That kind of yard.

The deep-water fish are my ancestors.

Generation after generation,
my ancestors have risen
to the surface, until they changed
their lives and became
the people at the water’s edge.

Where the Buddha is carved
into the cliff at the water’s edge,
toward sunset,
wholly immersed in sunlight
the chiseled heart beats.

The Cliff Buddha on West Mountain,
South Ch’ungch’ong Province,
that is my ancestor,
not the one from western India.

Right now is the most dazzling moment.
After sunset, opening the eyes in a squint,
peering into the distance,
in the ocean’s middle,
on a speck of an island
already now in gathering darkness,
a baby Buddha is carved into the cliff.
That is not the child of eternity.

Today the sounds of a passing school of sea bream
out there, in that ocean.
The two Buddhas turn their ears
to the majestic journey,
the baby Buddha more plainly listening,
knowing a shark is drawing closer
to any in the school that may be falling behind.
And just then, from the baby Buddha,
a brief cry of distress.